The best way to describe the group known as the Brass Monkey Brass Band is to expect the unexpected and prepare for the unusual. First and foremost, this group is not commercial by any stretch of artistic impression, nor are they the typical neo-contemporary elevator jazz band. But they are unique in an uncompromising kind of way; so much so, until the energy and effervescent spontaneity that they display leaves little behind as a dull moment. Their latest CD entitled The Highest Good is a reflection of toe-tapping grooves, reincarnated cover songs and the excitement generated by New Orleans’ second line brass bands. In addition what is even more notable and profound is the Brass Monkey Brass Band hails from San Francisco.
From the very onset of The Highest Good, the Brass Monkey Brass Band steps out on a hot bed of high-octane rhythms that have been augmented by a thunderous tuba and a chorus line of driving horns. Over 14 strategically chosen tracks, the Band has incorporated a cornucopia of tunes into a recorded message of contemporary R&B melodies, funk and circumstance that includes cover songs by Bert Kaempfert, Led Zepplin, Roger Troutman and Zapp. If those offerings were not enough, BMBB also offers a showcase of original tracks as well, all packaged in a neatly configured package of improvised harmonically correct jazz. Collectively, what is presented can best be described as an imaginary trip through a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade propelled by California influenced grooves.
When listening to the Brass Monkey Brass, anyone who has experienced the look and feel of New Orleans may be reminded of the Olympia Brass Band, Rebirth or any of the other famous second line brass bands seen in and around New Orleans during Mardi Gras. But The Highest Good is more than a New Orleans retrospective, the recording ebbs and flows with the look and feel of soul jazz as well. By most standards, BMBB could easily pass for Fat Tuesday originals deguised as funkmeisters with a wide array of brass instrumentation, saxophonic dynamics, rhythm-induced panoramics and percussive influences. The end result of this highly creative piece of musical expertise is an album that is energized by everything associated with the specialized flavor of the "Crescent City."In 1999, the Brass Monkey Brass Band was formed to play a Fat Tuesday party under the leadership of tuba player Jon Birdsong. What has since evolved is one of the most popular musical attractions around today. Individually and collectively, members of the Brass Monkey Brass Band have either opened or performed with Santana, Pharoah Sanders, KC and the Sunshine Band and other celebrated groups; additionally, the group has also had associations Bobby McFerrin, The Wild Magnolias, Dr. John and John Fogerty. Their first album entitled Live in Time and Space was well received by radio in both the United States and Europe. For seven years, the accolades continue to prosper and BMBB’s popularity and influence grows. With the release of The Highest Good, the Brass Monkey Brass Band continues a process of illumination and enlightenment from the platform of a New Orleans second line original.